Ben Carson Selling Snake Oil for Mannatech Was Good Practice for Running for President as a Republican
As for the quacks, patent medicines, and universal remedies, I need only mention their names. Prince Hohenloe, Valentine Greatrakes, John St. John Long, Doctor Graham and his wonderful bed, Mesmer and his tub, Perkins’s metallic tractors – these are half-a-dozen. Modern history knows hundreds of such. It would almost seem as if human delusions became more unreasoning and abject as their subject is greater in importance.
—P.T. Barnum, Humbugs of the World
That Dr. Ben Carson, an accomplished man of science, and a gifted physician, and one of the most ridiculous men ever to walk into American public life, has found himself tangled up as a candidate in his earlier career as a pitchman for what the 21st century has for patent medicine, is a development so rich with irony that I have to sit down for a brief nap after having attempted to take the business in whole. Carson has gone from denying any involvement at all, to acknowledging that, yes, he did make some videos in which he seemed to be extolling the virtues of some nostrums brewed up by something called the Mannatech Corporation, to blaming the media for confronting him with the details of his own biography. It’s remarkable to me that Carson is audible at all, given the number of cocks that must be crowing in the background when he speaks.
Mannatech is a quack operation, and Ben Carson is a political quack of the first rank. His economics are blissfully untouched either by math or by any social and political development that has occurred since the Panic of 1857. His grasp of history is deeply informed by his devotion to the absurd writing of one Cleon Skousen, a man so far to the right that he made even the Goldwater campaign nervous. So to see Carson struggling with his connection to actual quack potions in the middle of a campaign based almost completely on political and historical snake-oil is to hear history singing in harmony, and to enjoy the majestic spectacle of 100 chickens soaring home to roost as one.